Hunt stacks Climate Change Authority with Coalition advisors and ex MPs

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The Turnbull government has stacked the independent Climate Change Authority with Coalition advisors and former MPs in a bid to redress what it says have been “partisan” politics from the board of the institution that it had tried to dismantle.

The CCA has been a thorn in the side of the Abbott government before and since its election in 2013. The Coalition tried to dismantle the authority, but was stymied by the Senate. Ultimately, it was saved in a bizarre deal cut with Clive Palmer that led to the repeal of the carbon price.

However, the CCA has continued to attack the Coalition, criticising what is saw as “weak” emissions targets, and questioning the effectiveness of the core Direct Action policy.

Only on Wednesday, at the All Energy conference in Sydney, environment minister Greg Hunt said the current board members – including academic and former Greens candidate Clive Hamilton, economist John Quiggin and climate scientist David Karoly – were “some of the strongest, most outspoken partisan political players in the country in this space.”

“I respect these views, but I wouldn’t say it’s a body that has no political history,” Hunt said, and foreshadowed the appointment of new members who would be “really credible people”.


On Thursday, he announced the list, which includes two people who advised the Coalition on its Direct Action policy and two former Liberal and National Party politicians. As the right-wing and climate denying Catallaxy Files blog, peopled by many commentators in The Australian, observed: “Looking at the names it looks like the Authority has been stacked. Good.”

The appointees include Danny Price, of Frontier Economics, credited as being one of the principal architects of Direct Action and the emissions reduction fund, and Stuart Allinson of consulting group Bid Energy, who also advised the Coalition on Direct Action.

Also appointed was Kate Carnell, a former Liberal Party chief minister of ACT and head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a feisty critic of climate change policies, which once accused clean energy investments of “destroying jobs” rather than creating new ones. Carnell has represented the food and forestry lobbies and campaigned for those industries to be excluded from the carbon price.

And John Sharp, a former Nationals MP who was once minister for transport, and is now a director of Rex Airlines.

The CCA will be chaired by Wendy Craik, a former head of the National Farmers Federation and a former member of the Productivity Commission. She has also served on the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Craik replaces Bernie Fraser, the former head of the Reserve Bank, who became a big critic of the Abbott government’s climate policies and resigned one week before Turnbull became prime minister.

fraser bernieFraser accused the Abbott government of bowing to vested interests, was dismissive of Direct Action, and wanted Australia to have much stronger 2030 targets, in the region of 40 per cent to 60 per cent.

The Abbott government said Australia’s 2020 target should be 19 per cent below 2000 levels, effectively the same target Australia now has for 2030 – which it now describes as 26-28 per cent 2005 levels, a year of higher emissions than 2000.

Fraser was also highly critical of Hunt’s description of a $600 billion cost of an emissions reduction target of 50 per cent by 2030.

Price has courted controversy in many of his reports. One, described in our piece Modelling wars: Moulding data to kill renewables, was commissioned by the Australian Energy Market Commission. It showed he was no friend of renewable energy.

It assumed that the cost of wind energy was significantly more than it actually was, and assumed that the cost of solar power was also double what it actually was. Then it predicted that neither technology would experience cost falls in the coming 20 years.

That, of course, was absurd. But it provided the basis of modelling that assumed that only wind power would fill out the renewable energy target, probably the basis for the Coalition’s subsequent push against wind power. Almost all analysts now expects solar to be the majority supplier of the RET.

Frontier also labelled the RET as a “transfer of wealth from coal-fired generators to consumers”, and questioned whether even a much reduced target of 23,000GWh – it was later cut to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh – could be achieved.

Hunt complained about the lack of recognition for Australia’s per capita reduction targets, which he said were the heaviest per capita in the developed world.

“Perhaps, as a country, we should say, that’s pretty impressive,” he told the All Energy conference. Through a majority decision, maybe that’s what the CCA board might now be saying. Should be a fascinating board meeting though.

Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, said:

“Now the board is stacked with a majority of Coalition Government appointees and we’ll be watching very closely to see whether this influences the Authority’s work, which has a commendable track record. I hope that with Wendy Craik’s experience at the National Farmers Federation she will bring an understanding of the urgent need for action on global warming for farming communities. This is something the Nationals sadly don’t understand as shown through their deal with Malcolm Turnbull to keep Tony Abbott’s woeful climate policies in exchange for support.”  

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  • lin

    This is not good news. Malcolm should consider that there is a limit to the stupid partisan political crap people will put up with before his honeymoon is over, and tell his environment minister to stop being a silly Hunt.

    • Ron Horgan

      It’s appalling news lin. I thought political survival would require Turnbull to move smoothly towards renewables. Hunt had also moderated his anti renewables stance.
      If not survival then oblivion, the world has changed and that nimble agile government that Turnbull promotes will be stuck in the tar pits of history unless he quickly reverses this error

  • Rob

    I hope come election time there is a big advertisement informing Australians how deceitful the COALition is when it comes to their new claims of supporting renewables and taking responsible, appropriate action on climate change. They are such bald-faced liars it takes your breath away.

    • Rob G

      Yes, Labor need to be very clear in their approach to this. It needs to be a measured attack, mixed with a positive future building message. Turnbull will run a positive campaign. As someone who works in advertising I think Labor need to be sold in as a group. They have a lot of strong and likable people. This will also help with the less appealing Shorten image (vs Charming Mal). I think, on environment, Shorten and Butler should appear together. They should use viral and TV ads to explain what the LNP have done to the RET and the various climate bodies and follow up how they will fix it.

      It’s very important we don’t get swept up in the Malcolm charm – however good he may appear the party he represents is just on the wrong side of history and they need to be removed.

    • MaxG

      Welcome to politics.

  • Rob G

    Yet another thing Labor will need to fix when this mob get kicked out. Let’s hope voters can see past charming Malcolm and vote for meaningful policies to address the climate challenge. I think voting on the hope that Malcolm can turn his party around is seriously misguided, and this move by Hunt is yet another reason to be skeptical.

  • Rob

    So the “New Improved” COALition didn’t last long did it! When it comes to renewables and tackling climate change they are still woefully brain-dead! Stacking the Climate Change Authority with anti-renewables campaigners and climate change skeptics just proves they haven’t changed at all. It shows that despite Malcolm in the Middle’s positive rhetoric, he is totally powerless when it comes to implementing sound energy and environmental policies thanks to the prescence of the right-wing dinosaurs in his party.

    • MaxG

      Who in their right might expects the neoliberals to be anything but anti-environment and anti-people?

  • Bighead1883

    geeze Hunt aren`t you happy the Greens signed off with you lot on Direct Action.
    Promising them a higher RET for their signature and lowering it before the ink was dry.
    Now you can destroy the CCA in peace as the IPA always intended.

  • Les Johnston

    Not sure there will be any debate in the Climate Change “Authority” just a case of follow the leader of the COALition.

  • Climate fraud is a rort. It’s all about lazy scientists getting research grants. Talk about rentseekers. Why is is that any “serious” scientific investigation demands a statistical sample size that must represent a reasonable percentage of the total? So how does 200 years prove any science from the 5.6Bn years the earth has been here? Climate alarmism at its worst. You climate clowns and your claptrap are a joke.

    • mick


    • disqus_3PLIicDhUu

      Myopic mike amateur climatologist, knows better than the 99% of professional scientists in agreement on the subject, Dunning-Kruger at its finest.

    • Catprog

      How can we prove humans kill things when things have been killed for longer then humans have existed?

    • Barri Mundee

      Won’t bother engaging with dickheads who regurgitate discredited bull shit.

    • Farmer Dave

      Mike, the basic physics of the greenhouse effect – the mechanism through which increasing greenhouses gases like carbon dioxide retains heat in the atmosphere thus heating the planet – has been known for well over 100 years. This physics has been confirmed many times, by calculations based on laboratory measurements of the properties of the gases and by direct measurement in the atmosphere. You are asserting that all those physicists, all those measurements are wrong. Where is your evidence for this? Why haven’t you published it and been awarded a Nobel Prize for overturning so much science?

      • Peter Lyons

        Well put, Farmer Dave. We wait for mike111ryan to produce credible evidence in support of his abusive posting. Even if he can, he is just another unpleasant troll.

        • Geoff

          doubt you’ll hear anything back from mike111ryan. I requested he produce evidence on a similar topic on another forum which i’m still waiting for…

    • john

      you do of course speak in jest.
      Fact lazy scientists who work for free.
      Perhaps please just go look at any science body and be informed.
      No Rupert will not inform you NO newspaper will.
      The rate of change on earth in the last 200 years has not been seen in the historical record ever.
      Usually it takes thousands of years for this kind of change, that is why this is of some importance.
      Perhaps we should be more thoughtful of others instead of being self centred.

      • lin

        hate it when it links to the wrong post……..

    • lin

      Kudos Mike! Most people are reluctant to publicise their profound ignorance.
      If you are actually interested in the topic, rather than trolling, you would do well to read the debunking of all your points at

    • nakedChimp

      Who cares about that talking point any more?
      RE is cheaper and has no pollution compared to FF these days.. anyone who still touts FF is driving a self-interest agenda as he profits from privatizing profits and socializing costs.
      If you’re of the me-first-and-fuck-everybody-else-persuasion, so be it.. just don’t expect a lot of people to like you.

      PS: I hope life teaches you one or another lesson on this subject before you crook.

    • Alastair Leith

      So Mike, are you offering up your families wealth as a compensation fund for when you are demonstrated to be completely wrong (which is now already)? Not that a habitable plant is on the market, and getting a few hundred thousand ecosystems there might prove challenging.

  • John Saint-Smith

    Well, at least we know where we stand with ‘the Man for All Seasons’. These appointees will mean the CCA will cease to function as a credible advisory body.

    Turnbull’s credibility on climate change will hinge on his immediate sacking of Hunt and the reversal of this appalling decision.

    No, I’m not holding my breath.

    His Abbouttface is breathtaking.

  • Andrew_Nichols

    This is the result of the corruption ripe system Australia employs to choose public servants. If you werent so up your own backsides wrt little brother NZ you might want to take up their system of a State Services Commissioner who is the only public servant answerable to the politicians. This person then appoints all the heads of the public service free from interference. Utterly stupid and counterproductive to persist with the current Australian model

  • Rhona Eastment

    This stacking needs to be broadcast far and wide, so those with only access to the rightwing press – all Murdoch media, are made aware of the danger to our future and our international reputation. This reluctance to transition from fossil fuels and the power of the fossil fuel industry must be overcome

    • john

      Rhona no one will hear your plea because the appointments will be broadcast as sober and experienced people who will bring the right kind of deliberations to studies to do with all aspects of reduction targets and how to meet them.

  • Phil

    I see many people divesting of governments in energy decisions and doing it themselves as the off grid tech becomes more of a commodity.It will happen virtually overnight .The biggest blow will be the lost opportunities in manufacturing for Australia supplying the new tech for the energy revolution if Government maintain a stifling mindset of non renewables and Grid topologies that are now 100 years old.

  • Ian Saunders

    When will the Australian farmers, those who will be hit hardest by climate change realise that the NFF are not doing anything for them. There only real allies are in fact the “greenies”.

  • Alastair Leith

    Kate Carnell isn’t partisan at all though, great choice Minister. Compare David Karoly and Kate Carnell, #srsly.